RoboCoin Throws Shade re: Biometrics Tech, Uses it Anyway

electronic moneyRoboCoin, a provider of Bitcoin ATMs, is backing away from its palm-reading biometric security systems, according to an American Banker article by Bailey Reutzel. Company officials say it’s because the Fujitsu PalmSecure readers installed on their ATMs added too much time to the banking process for customers.

Speaking on the decision, RoboCoin CEO Jordan Kelley didn’t pull any punches, noting that while launching their ATMs with the technology “was cool, removing it was even better.”

The company has opted instead for a PIN-and-token system, in which users must enter their phone numbers, and then enter a verification code sent to them by SMS, before being allowed to use the ATM.

It’s a weird and surprising development. In most recent cases of public-facing organizations employing biometric authentication procedures, it’s touted as a customer service move that will reduce wait times while enhancing security. And there have been no such complaints resulting from the TouchID fingerprint-scanning system now installed on all new Apple mobile devices – which Mr. Kelley speculates about using for RoboCoin’s forthcoming iOS app.

Maybe the Fujitsu PalmSecure system was just a bad fit. The company is nevertheless employing one layer of biometric security in its ATMs in the form of a face-scanning protocol upon enrollment, which presumably would be used for authentication purposes in a similar way to the “face unlock” feature starting to appear on Android mobile devices.

November 21, 2014 – by Alex Perala